Beholder Wins Santa Anita Oaks, Headed to Kentucky Oaks
ARCADIA — Beholder was the easy winner of the Santa Anita Oaks and now is headed to Louisville for the Kentucky Oaks, the big race for fillies on the first Friday in May.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Beholder earned 100 points for the win and now has 164 points, the top qualifier for the most prestigious race for three-year-old fillies in the U.S.
“You expect it from a horse like her, but with horse racing you don’t want to expect too much,” Mandella said. “It’ll break your heart. She just did everything right, handled herself well. She’s a very good filly.”
It was Beholder’s fifth win from eight starts. She also has two seconds. “She did everything right.”
Asked if Beholder was one of his best ever, Mandella said, “She’s right up there. She has the heart of a warrior.”
Hughes loved the way his filly ran. He said he wouldn’t mind running her against the boys in the Kentucky Derby, but this year’s points system, based on separate races for colts and fillies, prohibits that.
“We’re looking forward to the Kentucky Oaks,” Hughes said. “We can’t go to the Derby. They don’t let us in anymore.”
Mandella predicts a competitive race in Kentucky, with Dreaming of Julia and Bob Baffert’s Midnight Lucky.
Jockey Garrett Gomez moved Beholder to the lead from the six hole and the daughter of Henny Hughes never looked back. She fought off Fiftyshadesofhay until the stretch, when Iotapa, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Joe Talamo, moved into second. Beholder won by 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Iotapa. Fiftyshadesofhay was third, and Mandella’s second horse in the race, Spellbound, was fourth.
“She left the gate like a shot,” Gomez said. “She gives me 110 percent when we go out there, and she’s just a pleasure to be on all the time. The mile and an eighth (in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks) will be another question. We’ll see what happens.”
Beholder earned $180,000 to move her career earnings to $1,675,000.
At Keeneland, Emollient won the 76th running of the Grade I, $500,000 Ashland to earn 100 points and also qualify for the Kentucky Oaks.
Beholder paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Iotapa returned $7.80 and $3.80. Fiftyshadesofhay paid $2.10 for third.
Notes: Laffitt Pincay Jr., won just about everything he ever raced in as a jockey, but he never won the Triple Crown, and he never took the Preakness, the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.
If ever Pincay was going to do that it would have been in 1978 when he replaced young Steve Cauthen on Affirmed for the Santa Anita Derby as Cauthen sat on the sidelines with a 10-day suspension. But Cauthen regained the mount when Affirmed moved back to New York, and Cauthen, not Pincay, won the Triple Crown, the last to do that.
“Affirmed was my mount at the time,” said Cauthen, who will return to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby to be part of the Derby Experience for fans who want to enjoy a special time at the America’s biggest race. “But I was riding in a regular, everyday, six-furlong race and I got pushed over by Darrel McHargue into ‘Shoe’ (William Shoemaker. Shoe wasn’t too happy about it, and he blamed me. There was a steward’s inquiry, and I got set down for a week. I had to sit on the sidelines and watch Laffitt.”